Intro To JASPER

Hi!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My name is Jasper. Whoever is reading this, you should stop. I. AM. BORING. Still reading? Fine. 

 I am 9 years old. I turned 9 on June 21, 2015. Not that I want to brag, but that is also the Summer Solstice and Father`s Day. I am in grade 3 going into 4. I had a really fun year in French Immersion Grade 3.My favorite thing is to enjoy, worship and play my favorite videogame, which is (drumroll, please) Minecraft. It is a game on the iPod, iPad, iPhone, PC, Android and many other devices… Anyway, I. AM. OBSSESED with it.

Adios mon amigo!

Leaving in Two Weeks

We’re now less than two weeks away from our trip. Derek booked our bus tickets to Montreal yesterday and our hotel for the first night in Amsterdam while I was staining the front porch.

With the help of our dear friend Ron (who rode his motorbike all the way from Fredericton to help out), we’ve fixed up and painted our house.

Grandpa Wayne and the kids, meeting up in Kingston.
Grandpa Wayne and the kids, meeting up in Kingston a few summers ago.

The next step is giving away or lending out anything we won’t need like our canoe, our climbing equipment & a few of our extra bikes. Everything else (except for Jasper’s LEGO which his Grandma Barbara has promised to store for him) will get packed up in the basement.

As soon as Anna Sierra saw Ron and his motorbike she asked if I thought she could have a ride. Of course Ron was happy to oblige and when there was a trip to the hardware store needed, off they went. Jasper wasn’t sure kids were allowed to ride motorbikes, but he was happy to help Ron by chipping out old bathtub caulking.

The past week has flown by with house tasks during the day and visits with friends in the evenings, including a special send off from my colleagues at work.

Just when the kids were getting restless with all the painting and packing, it was time for their annual trip to Cambridge to see their Grandma Pat & Grandpa Wayne.
When we first shared the news of our trip with Derek’s parents they were really supportive and promised to visit us in Cuba, but insisted that we not whisk the kids off for a year without their special week together. It’s such a special time for them, with lots of cookie baking, sewing, bike rides and chats.

As the kids raced around the house, checking Grandma’s list and packing everything they’d need for their visit, including tennis racquets to play with Grandma, books and art supplies for the drive and the 7 pairs of underware she recommended, we realized they were bringing more on their week away than we’d have room for on our big trip!

Even with front and back panniers on each of our three bikes, space will be tight. After essentials like rain gear, bike locks, bathing suits, our tent, our sleeping bags, sleeping mats, stove & basic kitchen stuff and a few toiletries, there’s not going to be much room for anything beyond bike shorts, a few changes of clothes and a bar of laundry soap.

I’m currently testing out my favourite skirts to see which one gets to come on the trip. It’s a close tie between a grey linen skirt that served me well on last summer’s ride from Cornwall to Toronto and a pink skirt that I also love.

May I take a moment to celebrate the biking skirt? Whether I actually bike in it or not, it’s so easy to throw on for lunch breaks, shopping breaks, or quick, discreet bathing suit changes if you want to hop off the bike and jump in a lake.

What’s your favourite bike travel gear?

Hope everyone is enjoying great summer adventures!

XO,

Kathleen

Our Bikes!

Well, some of you have been asking some questions about what kind of equipment we are using for our trip, so I’ll start by explaining the bikes.  We, in our family, are obsessed with bicycles. We have a lot of them.  Mountain, road, cargo, touring, winter, folding, we’ve got’em all!  So, which bikes to take was no simple decision, and is still an evolving process. But, here’s the plan as it stands:

Bike No. 1:  The Bike Friday Family Tandem !

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We (Jasper and I).  Love.  This.  Bike.  Love it.  It is so fun.  Not only is Jasper right behind me, the bike is rock solid, holds a ton of gear, has an internal rear hub, and, AND, fits into  2 suitcases!!  Really, what more could you want?  Some people buy electric bikes, not me!  I just put Jasper on the back of the tandem, and away we go!  We’ve had the bike for about 5 years, and have taken it on many trips.  The seatposts shrink and extend to fit right down to a 6 year old up to an adult (Kathleen and I have ridden the tandem together).  Yes, this is my favourite bike, of my 5.

Bike No. 2:  Kathleen’s Folding Montague Bike

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This bike is a full-size mountain bike, that folds in half, so it too can fit in a much smaller case than a standard adult bike.  Kathleen rode this from Cornwall to Toronto, and was quite happy with it.  It has a very upright position, carries lots of gear, and is just awesome.  Most of the parts I can replace, I have, with upgraded parts.

Bike No. 3:  Anna Sierra’s Miele TT 650

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I unfortunately don’t have any photos of this bike yet, as it is still in the modification stage, but it looks a lot like the bike above (although Anna’s has better components — nothin’ but the best for my girl!).  It is a fantastic 14″ (XSmall) aluminum framed mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes and decent parts.  I’m going to replace the disc brakes with V-Brakes, and the shock fork with a rigid fork, to lighten up the bike.  We aren’t planning any mountain biking, so the shock is overkill.

All of the bikes will be outfitted with front and back racks, and slick but fat road tires, that can handle some gravel, but work on roads.

Well, there you have it!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Pics of Anna’s bike to follow!  I will talk about our awesome panniers, and other equipment, in future blog posts,

Derek

All About Me

Hello Everyone! My name is Anna Sierra and I am turning 12 in July. I love riding my bike (of course!), running, baking, writing, drawing and reading. My family and I also enjoy doing several other sports such as canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, and especially cross-country skiing. I would like to be an activist or maybe a kindergarten teacher when I get older, I adore hanging out with younger kids.

Whenever they hear about the trip people tend to ask me what I am most looking forward to, so since you are reading this I am guessing that you are asking that question yourself. Are you? If not well thank you for reading and I will see you later. Still reading? That’s what I thought. Well, I am super excited to visit Cuba because the snorkeling sounds really amazing since the coral reefs are still intact because of the embargo, the caving sounds spectacular, and maybe we will even get to save some baby turtles so that, among other things, is why I am excited about Cuba. But then again I am also just excited to spend a whole year with my awesome family, and Europe sounds great too. So I guess I am just plain excited for trip.

Well that’s pretty much everything about me,

Anna Sierra.

The Plan!

So, you may be wondering, where are they going exactly?  Well!  Here’s the plan so far.  We are going to fly into Amsterdam on August 1, with our bikes.  We will then tour the Netherlands for about 3 weeks, doing loop tours around the Netherlands and then following the North Sea Cycle Route into France.  On the way to France we’ll bike on the fabulous car-free bike routes through the cycling heaven that is Belgium, stopping in Bruges and Ghent.  We will hopefully visit Vimy Ridge as well.  In France, generally we’ll follow the Atlantic Coast, cycling through Normandy on the Historical Trail, which takes in the D-Day beaches.  We will also take a jog into Paris, either by jumping a train or by biking the Avenue Verte, another car-free bike route that connects London and Paris.  We will also of course go into Dieppe in Northern France.  This part of the voyage I have researched heavily, and have a really good idea of where we are going to go.  Kathleen and I have also already cycled between Amsterdam and Bruges, so we now that area well.

From Normandy, we will head south via either the Velodyssey route along the Atlantic Coast or another route, generally heading towards Spain.  In the city of Biarritz, on the Atlantic Coast, we will pause to either A:  Learn how to surf or B:  Go hiking in the Pyrenees for a few weeks — probably B, because we will have ample opportunity to surf in Cuba!  From Biarritz, we will head into Spain, probably to either hike or bike the Camino Santiago.  Here plans start to get less concrete…  From Spain, we will fly into Havana, Cuba, sometime around October 28.  We will then spend about a month learning Spanish (Kathleen and I both speak passable Spanish), and then we will cycle the island, visiting turtle sanctuaries, possibly doing some volunteer work, learning about Cuba,  and learning to surf!  Sometime in February, we will head to either A: Yucatan (if we deem it safe enough to bike) for a few weeks and then option B —  or B:  Tucson, Arizona to start our northern trek through the Rocky Mountains and Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington — hitting the major national parks on the way — such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, King’s Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowknife, Glacier, etc.  This part we’ll see about how we get around, it may involve a lot of public transit.  The goal is to take Jasper to Jasper!  And then, train back home for August 1, 2016.  Phew!  That’s a mouthful!

So this is a very rough plan, guided by the following:

1.  It has to be safe enough, or we change our plans.  Our bikes are folding bikes, so we can jump public transit if we need to.

2.  Camping if necessary, but not necessarily camping (who am I copying there, oh history buffs?) — We’ll camp as much as possible, but not if the weather’s miserable.

3.  The plan is very fluid, and we have nothing to prove — if we get tired, we’ll stop.  If we like a place, we’ll stay, if we want to ride 150 km, we will!  We’re not on a mission.

So that sums it up!  Anyone have any suggestions of places to see along the way?  People to visit and stay with 😉 ?

Derek

One month to go

Taking the scenic route home from Bike Club in Gatineau Park.
Taking the scenic route home from Bike Club in The Gats.
Trying out our system before the big bike trip.
Trying out our system before the big bike trip.

We are getting so excited about our year off. It’s now one month until we fly, with our bikes, to Amsterdam.

Everyone we share this news with asks if we’re going to start a blog to document our bike adventures with the kids.

While we don’t want to be too attached to technology or to recording every moment, we are happy to bring you along for the ride.

Stay tuned for updates as we pack up our house, tune up our trusty fleet, visit with all the near ones and dear ones and lighten the pannier collection.

Xo

Kathleen, Derek, Anna Sierra & Jasper